A Child's Thanksgiving

A Child’s Thanksgiving

Created for a Purpose

When I was a new Christian, a friend lent me her book “A Purpose Driven Life” by Rick Warren. Reading a devotional was very useful when I didn’t know how to study the Bible. This helped me understand Biblical truths that were too complicated for me to chew by myself.

An excerpt of Day 2 devotional says:

I am your Creator. You were in my care even before you were born (Isaiah 44:2a – CEV).
You are not an accident.
Your birth was no mistake. Your parents may not have planned you, but God did.

Long before you were conceived by your parents, you were conceived in the mind of God. You are alive because God wanted to create you! “The LORD will fulfill his purpose for me.” (Psalm 138:8a NIV).

Because God made you for a reason, he also decided when you would be born and how long you would live. He planned the days of your life in advance, choosing the exact time of your birth and death. “You saw me before I was born and scheduled each day of my life before I began to breathe. Every day was recorded in your Book!” (Psalm 139:16 LB).

God also planned where you’d be born and where you’d live for his purpose. Your race and nationality are no accident. God left no detail to chance. He planned it all for his purpose.

Nothing in your life is arbitrary. It’s all for a purpose.

God decided how you would be born. Regardless of the circumstances of your birth or who your parents are, God had a plan in creating you. While there are illegitimate parents, there are no illegitimate children. Many children are unplanned by their parents, but they are not unplanned by God. God’s purpose took into account human error, and even sin.

God never does anything accidentally, and he never makes mistakes. He has a reason for everything he creates. Every person was designed with a purpose in mind. God’s motive for creating you was his love.

I didn’t know I needed to hear these words from God. His gentle reassuring words resonated in my heart and comforted my soul. His Word healed a wound I never thought was there.

I am the only child of my parents. I didn’t ask but I knew they didn’t plan or expect me. I cannot say I was unwanted because of the love, care, attention, and provision they lavished on me. But I was conceived out of sin and was born as a consequence of it.

We were taught in school and in the church that God is love. But we were also taught that God hates sin. So I wasn’t aware that in my heart I thought God loves me because I was already born and He had no choice. It’s not like He planned for man to sin so children would be born. And if my parents obeyed God and didn’t sin, I wouldn’t be born. So how could He have loved me before the world began yet hate the reason I was conceived? I didn’t know that because of the complexity of God’s sovereignty and man’s free will, I felt I was only an afterthought for God. But His message to me during my personal time with Him allowed me to understand that in His providence, He makes everything work out according to His plan. Nothing happens apart from His will.

With my mom, aunt and siblings.

Abundance of Love

From the day I was conceived, my dad provided for all my needs. He frequently visited us and took care of me. He never failed to provide for me until I was 3 years old when my mom decided to end the relationship and cease all the communication and provision. That was the only memory I had of my dad — from stories. I was 13 years old when they told me that one of my godfathers is actually my biological father.

After ending the relationship with my dad, my mom eventually met my stepfather and they got married. Soon my siblings were born. When our youngest brother was still a few months old, our dad went to work in another country to provide for us. He kept constant communication with us. He would often send photos, postcards, letters and calls us during weekends. My mom also sent him photos of us, letters and recorded messages on cassette tapes. But we were like most children of distant parents: either we don’t have anything to say or we don’t know what to say; so our messages and phone conversations with him were short.

My mom worked in a government institution in Manila. Since we were living in Laguna, she had to leave early in the morning and often comes home after our bedtime. So during weekdays we’d sometimes see her a few minutes before she leaves for work. Our grandmother and aunts took care of us and attended to our daily school activities.

So the Lord has given me 3 fathers, a mom, and 3 motherly figure who took care of us. I have my biological father, stepfather and my adoptive heavenly Father. We have our mom, grandmother and 2 aunts. God showed His love and care for us through them

Our paternal grandparents and relatives in Iloilo. Our grandfather is at the top center wearing a blue polo and our grandmother is sitting down wearing a green polka dot dress.

Life Stories of Old

Growing up, adults in the family often tell us stories of their childhood. I find them interesting because their experiences were very different from ours. Their life, as they described it, was difficult yet fun. Telling us their story was their way of teaching us the realities of life we were unfamiliar to and showing us the importance of education, hard work, perseverance, and determination.

Our grandparents were hardworking and persevering, and they instilled these values to their children. At a very young age, our mom and her older siblings had to do all household chores and take care of their younger siblings while our grandparents work on the farm. They were trained to do their tasks swiftly. They had to wake up early to get to school on time since it’s of significant distance and they travel only on foot; at times they’d walk barefooted because they didn’t want their slippers to get worn out or soiled with mud. Even on weekends, they can’t be seen sleeping or still lying down when the sun has risen. Sometimes they’d help tend their farm animals, and plant or harvest crops.

When they had to leave the farmlands, their life became more difficult. There were times when they had nothing to eat. They’d go to school with only hot water for breakfast and hope that our grandparents would bring them something to eat for lunch.

When my mom graduated in high school, they immediately moved to Manila to work and study. They got employed in various kinds of jobs to support themselves, their studies and our grandparents.

A Child's Thanksgiving
Our maternal grandparents

Despite all their hardships, I never heard my mom and her siblings complain or speak ill of our grandparents. Instead, I only hear their fondness of them. My mom is grateful that, though provision may sometimes be lacking, our grandparents’ support for them had been abundant.

If they had all their basic needs, they may not have hoped for a better life. If they had owned even a small land in the province, they may not have gone to Manila and pursued a college degree. Their hardships fueled them to persevere. They’re grateful for everything they went through because these brought them to where they are now. And without their determination, we also wouldn’t be where we are now.

Fruit of Perseverance

The blessings we have received were not because of our hard work and perseverance but because of our parents and grandparents’. We have been enjoying the fruit of their perseverance.

We were brought up in a comfortable and sheltered life. We never experienced having nothing to eat; we were provided meals according to our preferences and were even brought freshly cooked lunch in school. I needn’t watch over my younger siblings because they each had their own nanny. We were never required to do household chores because we had helper/s until I was 29. We never went to school barefooted because all our needs and even wants were well-provided for. We never experienced going to school on foot, except when it was just in our neighborhood, because either our aunt or uncle drives us to school. When I was in first year college, they even thought I’d get lost going to Manila because I only learned to ride public transport when I was in high school. We weren’t allowed to work until we graduated. We never lacked anything.

They not only supplied our every need but also provided us comfort and convenience, not to mention all the support they have given us. This was how they showed their love and care for us. They didn’t want us to experience the hardships they went through so they gave us what they would have wanted for themselves.

6 out of 7 siblings. My mom, uncles, aunts and their spouses. Their youngest sister passed on years ago.

The life I’m living now, rescued from a life of chasing after the wind, without fear of death, and certain of eternity, is also a fruit of another Person’s perseverance, sacrifice and unconditional love — Jesus Christ.

Jesus Christ is the Son of God but He did not think that His being equal with God was something to use for His own benefit. Instead, He gave up everything, even His place with God. He took the humble position of a servant and was born as a human being. During His life as a man, He humbled Himself by being fully obedient to God. He lived a holy life and willingly sacrificed Himself on the Cross as payment for our sins so that everyone who trusts in the finished work of Christ alone shall not perish but have eternal life. He did this not because we are good or worth saving but only because of His love and mercy.

The Bible says: Everyone has sinned; we all fall short of God’s glorious standard. And when people sin, they earn what sin pays—death. Eternal separation from God and eternal punishment is the penalty of sin. It is for this reason that Christ came into the world. For if keeping the law (following God’s commandments out of our own strength) could make us right with God, then there was no need for Christ to die. We cannot save ourselves by being good because God’s standard is perfect holiness and that is fulfilled by Jesus Christ alone. So that everyone who believes in Jesus and trusts in His sacrifice on the Cross as payment for sins shall have eternal life.

A Child’s Thanksgiving

A Child's Thanksgiving
A photo taken by my biological dad 30 years after he last saw me.

Whenever I think about God’s faithfulness in my life, I can’t help but remember everything God has done in our family, beginning from my grandparents. My grandmother almost died when she was pregnant with my mom. My parents didn’t plan about me but God foreknew and created me for His purpose. He has been protecting and blessing my family, He gave me an opportunity to live and now He even adopted me so I can be called His child. How gracious are You, Lord? Thanksgiving is even a pitiful response for everything You have done.

This is how You have been taking care of me. You have placed me in a family to be my shelter, to protect, love and care for me. This is how You have loved me, this how You fathered me. You sheltered me, protected, cared for, loved, provided for and sustained me. You never missed a single moment. You are always present every second of my life. You are my Parent who cherished me as a child. You said, “I have carried you since you were born; I have taken care of you from your birth. Even when you are old, I will be the same. Even when your hair has turned gray, I will take care of you. I made you and will take care of you.” (Isaiah 46:3-4 NCV). How sweet are You, Lord?

Who am I that the Lord of all the earth, Creator of the universe, majestic and all-powerful God would be mindful of me? I’m just a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes! Yet You chose me and called me Your own.

Because of Your unfailing love and faithfulness, there’s no other fitting response but to serve the purpose of my existence, to be how You intended me to be and do exactly what You purposed me to do. And that is to know You more intimately each day and to proclaim Your Name to all the earth so that others too may know of Your greatness and bring You glory! You have created us in Your image, and Christ’s sacrifice is for us to be reconciled back to You and be conformed to His image.

“For I know the plans I have for you,” says the LORD. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope. In those days when you pray, I will listen. If you look for me wholeheartedly, you will find me.” (Jeremiah 29:11-13)

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